Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hey Working Moms, You're Doing Just Fine

I just finished reading a blog post by a wonderful Christian stay at home mom who always seems to have sage advice on how to raise children.  I love her approach to raising kids - spending more time engaging them, less technology, disciplining with love, trusting your gut, basically just good old-fashioned parenting.

But...you knew there was a but coming, right?

I tend to feel really sad after reading posts by stay at home moms when they push just how important it is to be a stay at home mom.  I don't think they do it to be hurtful, I think they are trying to get across the importance of their work, and the role of being a mom.  It's just that when you can't stay at home with your kids every day, and you want to, it's always like a sword to the heart.  Like if somehow I loved my kids better, then money would magically fall from the sky and I could stop working, do the right thing and stay home.



I know many parents struggle and sacrifice so that one parent, usually the mom, can stay at home and raise the kids.  They are able to make it work because it's important to them.  We tried that for a few years until we literally couldn't pay the bills no matter how simply we lived our lives, and we had to change something.  I had to start working.  First part-time, but as more children came, and with that more expenses, I eventually had to work full-time.  I think there are a lot of mothers in my situation who feel the calling to be a stay at home mom but realistically can't make it happen.  So hearing the importance and selflessness of the role of a SAHM only makes us feel really sad, like we are failing our kids.  Like if we just planned better and sacrificed more than we too would be able to see the importance of family and raising children.  I don't need that lesson.  I already know it, and I love my kids enough to do anything for them.  For me, that means working outside the home.



I don't really write about working.  Simply because it's not professional and I don't want to lose my job, but mostly because my job doesn't define who I am.  It's a means to an end.  I like my job and I am thankful for it, but if I didn't need to be here I wouldn't be.  What defines me, what I'm passionate about, are my husband and kids.  They are the meaning of my life.  I don't need to have more mom guilt over not being with my 2 year old and 6 month old every day.  I need someone to tell me it's OK.

So for you working moms out there who put your family first so much that you have to leave home to work to provide for them...it's OK.  You're doing great.  You are loving your family through your actions and teaching them what it means to sacrifice your time and talents in order to create a good life.  You are giving enough to your kids, you do love them enough, and the good  Lord knows where your heart is.  You are showing your children that moms can do anything, moms can be highly educated and choose which path they want to follow - staying at home or having a career.  You are also showing them that one person can't do it all, no matter where they work, and it takes the whole family to pitch in to make a household run smoothly.  There's no maid, chauffeur, or cook here.  There's just us, serving one another.  Family is teamwork.

I think all of us moms who are trying our best to raise our kids are doing an amazing job.  No matter where you spend most of your waking hours, and no matter what you have to do to help your family thrive.  There's no need to elevate the role of one mom while putting down the others whose roles look different.  I applaud you SAHMs and you WOHMs and I don't want anyone to feel guilty for making those tough choices.  I tend to be sensitive to this particular subject because my heart's in one place and my head's in another, so sorry if this came off a little emotionally charged.  How about a funny meme we can all agree on....

:)

18 comments:

  1. I think 99% of moms are just doing the best they can at any given point. I applaud you!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I needed to read this today. I returned to work last week from a 12 week maternity leave. It is hard leaving my little one (and 2 year old) every day even though I know we are making the best and really only decision we can for our family.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amen! #6 was born five weeks ago and I'll be returning to work (reluctantly) in another three weeks. I don't want to leave my baby but I do want to pay bills. Sigh... it is always a struggle.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I found your blog back when you had a link up for working moms. At that point, I was so heartbroken over having to work that I couldn't even respond to it, but I'm in a much better place now and my family has found a good rhythm even though I still work full time. I love hearing from other working moms (especially Catholic moms). Thanks for this post!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Everyone's path is different and God gives grace to each family to sustain them in their unique situation! Thank you for writing this!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I think we all have that aspect of our motherhood that we wish we could change, that makes us feel less-than. For me, it's having c-sections. There are so many people (and bloggers! ho-boy!) who gush about the superiority of natural birth ad-nauseam, and it really wears on a person who is not able to give birth that way! But I know my friends and family all look at me and shake their heads when I talk about how that makes me feel like a bad mom. To them, I'm doing a great job and this isn't a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I think the reality lies somewhere in the middle. It's valid for me to have these feelings about birth, just like it's valid for you to have these feelings about working. But it doesn't mean that we're doing a bad job or that we're less of a mother because our circumstances. Life isn't perfect, and anyone who says you MUST do things a certain way to be the bestest Catholic mother in the world... well, that person is wrong. And for what it's worth, I look at you and say "Damn! Colleen has her act together!" I would never think less of you for working because you have such a tight, loving, faithful family. You're clearly doing something right!

    ReplyDelete
  7. From a fellow Catholic Massachusetts mom to another, I totally get this! One comment I wanted to add though is that you don't need to be in dire financial straits to justify Mom working outside the home. Just like men, each of us is given unique talents and gifts that we are tasked to use in this life. Some of us will be called to use them at home. Others a blend of in and out of the home. And still others, different mixes at different stages in life! Truth be told, I work outside the home and I don't "have" to. My husband and I have discerned at this stage in life, this arrangement is best for the entire family for a variety of reasons. It doesn't mean I don't love my kids. It doesn't mean we aren't dedicated to their upbringing or that I somehow don't value the work of the home. It's simply what we think God has asked of us now. Will this be the case in 2, 5 or 10 years (with, God-willing, more kids). No idea! But this is the decision now. My spiritual director often reminds me there is no model Catholic family and every decision we make (outside of the few determined by clear dogma) is a matter of rectitude of intention. Are we discerning this family decision with a desire to fulfill God's will? Are we making use of the sacraments, prayer and means of formation to inform the decision? If so, then be at peace.

    Still it can be hard to feel a fish out of water. Keep on, keeping on mama.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Totally agree! A dear friend just chose to stop being a stay at home mom and take a teaching position at her kids' Catholic school. The "need" there was an emotional/spiritual one. I watched their discernment, and you wouldn't believe how many amazing signs God worked to bring them to peace about the decision to be a dual income family. It was beautiful, and they are thriving as they adjust to this new part of their family vocation. Plus I'm an at home homeschooling mom (right now) and most of us second guess ourselves there too! It is always about your faithfulness to God's call in your life, and no one can wver judge that from the outside.

      Delete
  8. I love your blog and needed to hear this! My first little man will be 1 in 1 week and i wish i could be with him all the time, but student loans...lol!! Anyway, thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. A-M-E-N! I work full-time outside the home and all that means is that we find that choice works best for our family. Not that it is a better or worse choice than what someone else has made.

    God provides grace for the calling that He gives us.

    Love all your posts. :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. First of all, I really enjoy your blog Colleen! I admire your dedication to your family. As a fellow large family mom (9 kids) I marvel at how you do it all!

    I think you are doing just fine and doing what you have to do to support your family. God will continue to give you and your family the necessary graces.

    I am dismayed by some of the comments stating that mothers can discern a calling to work outside of the home when it isn't necessary. I listened to a talk where the priest said that it is a sin for a mother to work outside of the home if it isn't absolutely necessary. If I remember correctly it is a sin against justice. Children have a right to be at home with their mother during the day. To deprive children of this unnecessarily is sinful.

    It is feminism (that finds its roots in Marxism) that encourages mothers to work outside of the home when not necessary. Do some research on this. It is interesting.

    The fact is that, although some mothers must work outside of the home (as in your case colleen) the ideal is for mothers to be home with their children. What I think you are saying is thst mothers need to be supportive of one another whether they are at home during the day or in the workplace. I completely agree!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It would be a sin against justice to stay at home with your kids because you feel like you MUST do that, and then be a miserable, terrible mother to them because you're unhappy being a homemaker. Some women are better mothers when they have a job outside of the home.

      Delete
    2. I think this relates to what Pope Francis has urged in situations that require private discernment. The Holy Spirit calls individuals, and it is their responsibility and spiritual obligation to listen and answer. The Holy Spirit doesn't give us the ability to discern what someone else should do in their own situation. These are the times when we can urge people to pray, frequent the sacraments, and seek a spiritual director; but in this case determining what would or would not be objectively sinful is not possible for those of us outside the discernment.

      Delete
    3. Nowhere - not in the Bible, not in the Catechism, not in any document that forms the magisterium of the Church - is it required that women stay home full time in the home but for the direst of circumstances. What that priest said is flatly wrong and misleading. I have sought direction from many orthodox priests and none have ever directed my husband and me in this manner. And no,our discernment had nothing to do with feminism or Marxism. What that priest espoused was his personal, not authoritative, opinion.

      Delete
  11. Thank you for writing this! I needed to read this.

    ReplyDelete
  12. #preach
    I have more to say, but it gets judgey. So I will refrain. Sometimes, for the sake of being financially responsible, both parents have to work, even if isn't the exact idea...

    And sometimes, people are better moms because they work. Maybe rarely, but it happens.

    Thank you for saying this.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Oh my word! I choose to work part time because I like working and mentally can't be a full time SAHM. I've made the choice that's best for my family and myself and I fell its been great for us. My children are safe and happy and playing with colleens kids actually. I certainly do not think or feel that I'm sinning by choosing to go to work!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I just started my blog, HomeWorkin Mama where I will share my experiences as a WFH Mom, first time mom, etc. I am also going to homeschool my daughter and share information I learn and use for that! Please check it out!
    http://homeworkinmama.com

    ReplyDelete

Talk to me...